For “Ghost”, British singer-songwriter Ella Henderson’s first single (already #1 in the UK and Ireland), she decided to go straight to the source, the origin, the still-beating heart of American music—New Orleans—to shoot the accompanying video.
And just as New Orleans does not disappoint, neither does “Ghost”. Both are filled with heart, soul, mystery, pain, passion and the power to lift your spirits while never letting you forget that evil’s grasp is never out of reach…indeed, a part of it lives in our hearts.
I keep going to the river to pray;
‘Cause I need something that can wash all the pain.
The interwebs practically collapsing this morning from the weight of all those Harry Potter fans tweeting, posting and embedding clips of Daniel Radcliffe’s rendition of “Alphabet Aerobics” by Blackalicious.
Rather than fight it, let’s just go straight to the source this morning for Gift of Gab’s original morning workout for rappers.
Perfected poem, powerful punchlines,
Pummeling petty powder puffs in my prime….
You know what you don’t see a lot of anymore? Black velvet suits with 6″ lapels on the jackets and 8″ bell bottoms on the pants. Ah, but back in the 1970s, it was a different story.
Three Dog Night’s sartorial choices aside, “Shambala” is one of the more joyous songs to chart in the ’70s, with a peculiarly American (California sub-division) blend of feel-good optimism, Tibetan Buddhist philosophy and gospel-tinged harmonies.
Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain, with the rain in Shambala;
Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame, with the rain in Shambala.
So far as the Research Division of our Music Department here at MassCommons World Headquarters has been able to figure out, Keith Richards has never said exactly when the Rolling Stones realized that agreeing to appear after James Brown & the Famous Flames at the T.A.M.I. Show was the biggest mistake of their careers.
But, on the evidence of Soul Brother #1’s opening number, “Out Of Sight”, I’m going to guess it came somewhere in the first 28 seconds of Brown’s set when he brought down the house with nothing more than his dance/entrance from stage left to the microphone.
You know just what you’re doin’ baby;
You know you’re out of sight.
The Orange Blossom Special was a winter-only deluxe passenger train that ran from New York City to Miami from the 1920s to the 1950s. As Chubby Wise tells the story, he and composer Ervin Rouse toured the Orange Blossom Special one night and “it was just about the most luxurious thing I had ever seen“. They went back to Wise’s room, sat down on the side of the bed and picked out the melody in about an hour.
If “Orange Blossom Special” were in the classical repertoire, it would be known as a “mandatory audition piece”. In bluegrass circles, fiddle players knew they just wouldn’t get hired by a band unless they could play “The Special”, aka the “fiddle player’s national anthem“.
This clip is of the Clinch Mountain Boys performing the Special a couple of years ago. All aboard!
We’ll end this week of Chicago music in church with “If We Ever Needed The Lord Before”, written by Chicago’s own Thomas A. Dorsey, the father of black gospel music.
That’s the incomparable Marion Williams, one of Dorsey’s frequent collaborators and finest interpreters, singing in double-time; and if Marion Williams can’t get you on your feet and clapping your hands, then…well…you might be in the wrong church.
Musically speaking, we’ve been in Chicago all week. Let’s continue with Chicago native Herbie Hancock’s gorgeous, evocative “Maiden Voyage”. The title track from his 1965 album, “Maiden Voyage” is Hancock’s attempt to capture “the splendor of a sea-going vessel on its maiden voyage“. Having most of Miles Davis’ second great quintet together helps.
Happy sailing, wherever you are today.